# hermitian operators

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QMSE-01 Quantum Mechanics for Scientists & EngineersDavid MillerStanford University

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• 6.2 Unitary and Hermitian operators

Slides: Video 6.2.3 Hermitian operators

Text reference: Quantum Mechanics for Scientists and Engineers

Section 4.11

• Unitary and Hermitian operators

Hermitian operators

Quantum mechanics for scientists and engineers David Miller

• Hermitian operators

A Hermitian operator is equal to its own Hermitian adjoint

M M

• Hermitian operators

In matrix terms, with

then

so the Hermiticity implies for all i and jso, also

the diagonal elements of a Hermitian operator must be real

11 12 13

21 22 23

31 32 33

M M MM M M

MM M M

11 21 31

12 22 31

13 23 33

M M MM M M

MM M M

ij jiM M

• Hermitian operators

To understand Hermiticity in the most general senseconsider

for arbitrary and and some operatorWe examine

Since this is just a number a 1 x 1 matrix

it is also true that

g M f

f g M

g M f

g M f g M f

• Hermitian operators

We can also analyze using the rule for Hermitian adjoints of products

So

Hence, if is Hermitian, with thereforethen

even if and are not orthogonalThis is the most general statement of Hermiticity

g M f AB B A g M f g M f

M M M g M f f M g f g

M f g f M gf M g

• Hermitian operators

In integral form, for functions and the statement can be written

We can rewrite the right hand side using

and a simple rearrangement leads to

which is a common statement of Hermiticity in integral form

f x g x g M f f M g g x Mf x dx f x Mg x dx

ab a b g x Mf x dx f x Mg x dx g x Mf x dx Mg x f x dx

• Bra-ket and integral notations

Note that in the bra-ket notation the operator can also be considered to operate to the left

is just as meaningful a statement as and we can group the bra-ket multiplications as we wish

Conventional operators in the notation used in integration such as a differential operator, d/dx

do not have any meaning operating to the left so Hermiticity in this notation is the less elegant form

g A A f

g A f g A f g A f

g x Mf x dx Mg x f x dx

• Reality of eigenvalues

Suppose is a normalized eigenvector of the Hermitian operator with eigenvalue

Then, by definition

Therefore

But from the Hermiticity of we know

and hence must be real

nM n

n n nM

n n n n n nM

M n n n n nM M n

• Orthogonality of eigenfunctions for different eigenvalues

Trivially

By associativity

Using

Using Hermiticity

Using

and are real numbers

RearrangingBut and are different, so i.e., orthogonality

0 m n m nM M

AB B A 0 m n m nM M 0 m n m nM M

M M 0 m n m nM M

n n nM 0 m m n m n n 0 m m n n m n

0 m n m n 0 m n m n

m n

• Degeneracy

It is quite possible and common in symmetric problems

to have more than one eigenfunction associated with a given eigenvalue

This situation is known as degeneracy It is provable that

the number of such degenerate solutions

for a given finite eigenvalue is itself finite

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